There have been a number of press articles lately suggesting that zoos may never re-open. This is not the case.
I am keen to see both Drayton Manor and Twycross zoos re-open safely and to have a secure future moving forwards. Attractions of this nature are facing a seriously unique set of circumstances and their commitment to welfare of their creatures in their care is striking.
Ministers are listening to the concerns and have launched a £14 million support fund for zoos and aquariums which will help cover costs such as feed, heating and security. This is on top of a number of support schemes already available such as business rates relief, the business interruption loan scheme, VAT deferral and the job retention scheme. I have fed the concerns that have been put to me straight to my colleagues at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs who have assured me they are working with the main industry association, the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA), as well as individual zoos. Behind the DEFRA team is a cohort of expert advice straight from their Zoo Expert Committee.
At a local level, My team and I have been working alongside local attractions, as well as with the leading hospitality trade association ‘UKHospitality’ to understand and discuss how and when zoos and aquariums may be able to reopen in a safe way to the public while also maintaining social distancing.
Zoos in our area have been very active in making preparations and the Government task forces are still pulling together guidelines and good practice rules for zoos and other tourist attractions to reopen as soon as it is safe to do so. Please remember that whilst a zoo is largely an outdoor attraction, many people touch the screens and bars, interact with the exhibits, need to eat and make use of toilet space, shop and lets not forget how well attended zoos can be in the summer time. There is lots to think about before reopening but we hope it can take place as soon as possible.
In the meantime, you can see the latest from our local zoos and perhaps consider membership or adopting an animal at: